One of my friends preaches from double-spaced notes. He says it is a constant reminder to allow room for the Holy Spirit to work. He has a plan. He has studied and knows where he is headed but it may not be the direction God ends up at when he steps down from the pulpit.
Discipleship is like that. It is important to have a plan and a philosophy of discipleship. Know where you are taking people. But don’t be so rigid and out of tune with God and neighbor that you miss opportunities.
When I meet with people I always have something in mind for us to work on. Sometimes the thing in mind is just to have fun catching up and sharing life. Other times it is a specific topic and specific verses to discuss and talk about how we will live out what we are learning. Still other times it is coaching a prayer exercise for them to being practicing.
Pray Before you Meet
Before any discipleship meeting with someone (or with a group) always pray and ask God for direction. Ask God to tune your heart, ears and eyes (so much of communication is non-verbal) to the agenda for the day. It may not end up where you want it to go. It may go somewhere better and more relevant.
We must ask God for discernment and develop the spiritual eyes to understand what is happening in front of us.
Watch & Listen
So we sit down to talk and I am listening…I am watching…paying attention to see where God may be taking the conversation. There are times the verses I had to share never felt right to share because of what was being said. Pay attention to that. Pray during the conversation, “God if you want me to share this thought or this verse please make it clear. Give me the green light.”
You will be amazed at how God will give you the nudge (or not) to dive into something. Maybe something the others say is the perfect transition to the topic of the day. Maybe something they say is so potent and packed with emotion that you never feel right during the entire time to bring up what you had prepared to share.
Pay Attention – this is Serious
Discipleship is spiritual warfare. And if we are unaware of that, we will go into battle unprepared and unaware…not looking for the things that might help win or lose the battle.
So keep your eyes open. And most of what helps you do that is what happens before you ever sit down with someone (fasting, prayer and study). When you get a nudge, pay attention and follow it. If you ignore God’s promptings they can get harder to discern the next time.